Vegan athlete: Jack Morrow

Since Athlegan's start three months ago we've grown this family of ours to many hundreds of vegan athletes and tens of thousands of veg-curious visitors. I'm amazed by its success!

During this I've had the privilege of talking with so many of you, inspiring athlegans from all walks of life. It's not right keeping all of your awesome stories to myself, so today I want to try something new.

I'm going to start showcasing you, dear reader, here on Athlegan.com. The CrossFit converted soccer moms, the strongman office workers, and the weightlifting bus drivers. Ranging from beginners to beasts – together we'll show just what can be done as a vegan.

First out is the beastly Jack Morrow, one seriously strong powerlifter gone physique competitor.

Hey Jack! How's your training coming on?

Jack Morrow in the gym

Hey Tobias, thanks for asking! Training is going well. I finished my college athletic career last May, I’ve since competed in one physique show, and now I’m working on proportionality as I slowly gain mass.

You've managed some pretty impressive lifts. Which are you most proud of?

Deadlift remains my favorite lift, and I think my best lift was pulling 601lbs and a bodyweight of 158lbs at the Night of the Living Deadlift in 2013. I had the privilege of competing directly against someone I’d grown to admire, Richard Hawthorne, who ended up winning the whole meet.

I’m also proud of my 628lb squat at a bodyweight of 178lbs at my final National Championship in April of 2015.

What does your training program look like today?

It’s very basic. I generally follow a Push / Pull / Legs split, training everything twice a week on average. I like the rotation because if I need a rest day early, I’ll take it, or if I’m feeling good and want to train more than 6 days in a row, I have that option. I think pinning a split to a day of the week can often lead people to feel disappointed in themselves if they miss a day.

When and why did you become vegan?

The health of my body, the lives of the animals, and the habitability of our planet. There’s compelling arguments on all three points, but for me the environmental factor was the largest contributor. If we wreck this earth to the point where we can’t live here anymore, and neither can the animals, then the first two matter much less. At the end of the day, the inconvenience of avoiding animal products couldn’t outweigh my knowledge of the affects their consumption would have on me, the animals, and the planet.

What do you eat on a typical day?

I eat a fairly high fat diet. Some of the staples include avocados, coconut milk, coconut oil, MCT oil, plant based protein powder, cacao powder, almonds, pepitas, almond butter, chia seeds, and veggie burgers.

What has been your biggest struggle as a vegan?

Jack Morrow

It’s been twofold.

Firstly, the stigma. It seems as though labelling something or someone as vegan invokes all this negative imagery and bad associations. It’s remarkable how strongly people can be demonized just for NOT eating something.

I do my best not to inconvenience others with my lifestyle choices, but unfortunately the vocal minority which precedes me projects a certain very negative reputation.

The second is the mild inconvenience of pre-screening restaurants and venues before going out. It’s not a huge deal and certainly not enough to dissuade me, but it remains a bit of a nuisance.

If you could travel back in time to when you started training, what would you tell your younger self?

That’s kind of a tough one because I’m generally very happy with the path I took. I think I would probably warn myself against the “mass-at-all-costs” mentality that’s prevalent in powerlifting. I grew from 125lbs to 190lbs in less than four years and that was definitely not all muscle. Growing more slowly might have been a healthier choice, though I think my lifts likely would have suffered.

What are some mistakes you see people make?

In terms of diet, animal products aside, people really forget that dietary fat isn’t evil. Nothing is really evil from a diet perspective, except maybe deep fried twinkies. If there’s something to avoid, it’s sugar. There’s a big place for fat in any competitive diet, and I can’t think of a time when sugar is really critical. Just take it slow, be consistent, and change one small variable at a time to see how it affects you.

In terms of training, unless you are powerlifting and even then, use less weight. I see people compromising technique left and right just so they can use heavier weights. Who are you trying to impress? Are you going to put that you use eighty pounds on rope triceps extension on your resume? If people would just set ego aside and select a weight they could really control, they may find that their training program serves their goals more efficiently.

What would you tell a new vegan who just started training?

Congratulations! You've taken a HUGE step towards being a healthier person, a better citizen of the earth, and a more compassionate human.

As you embark on this lifetime journey, do not be discouraged as you seek the right path towards health and fitness. Many will try to dissuade you but don't ignore them. Take time to listen, digest, and respond respectfully, keeping in mind they too are on their own journey.

Be more than just a vegan and an athlete. Be a representative for kind and compassionate living without compromising performance. You're on the right track!

You can follow Jack on Instagram for some more vegan strength.

Over to you

Would you like to appear here on Athlegan.com and tell us your story? I'd love to hear it!

Send me an email ([email protected]) and let's chat.